Book Review | Wolf Haven by Brenda Peterson & Annie Marie Musselman

wolf haven cover.jpegPartially funded by a Getty Images grant, Wolf Haven : Sanctuary and the Future of Wolves in North America‘s collaboration between photographer Annie Marie Musselman and writer Brenda Peterson yields an informative and striking book about the history and ongoing battle of North America’s endangered wolves and offers readers a comprehensive introduction to Washington’s Wolf Haven sanctuary. In addition to being a lovely coffee table photo book, scientific and political backstory are woven in to help readers understand the hot topics of the wolves endangerment and conservation efforts. Individual wolves from the sanctuary are also introduced, some with more troubled pasts than others.

Overall, this book is very well done and would be palatable to a wide range of audience. The writing is clear and easy to follow without being overly scientific or poetic. This said, a few sentences are slightly embellished and a tad flowery. Most of the photos are truly gorgeous and appropriately captioned with only a few exceptions. Wolf Haven would serve as a great introduction to anyone looking to find out more regarding the story of endangered wolves in North America. Photography fans will also not be disappointed with this gem. Check it out from a library near you.

I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the authors/publisher for participating in the giveaway.


Madison Bike! Bingo – A Celebration of Community Biking

madison bike bingo copy 2.jpg

Tomorrow kicks of Madison’s first ever session of Bike! Bingo. From May 12 – June 12, 2016 riders will be able to participate in a celebration of biking in the Madison community by riding to participating local businesses and receiving bingo stamps and prizes. For a suggested $2 donation, riders can buy a bingo card with over 30 squares of bike enthusiastic establishments. When a rider completes a five in a row bingo s/he will be eligible to receive a row prize. Larger prizes exist for the ever popular cover-all or blackout, when a rider stamps all of the locations on the bingo card. Cards are now on sale at bingo business partner shops (list here). Bike! Bingo will also be tying in with some of the upcoming Wisconsin Bike Fed events including the New Belgium Clips Beer and Film Tour at Olin Park on June 2.

The event took place last year in Milwaukee and was a big hit with the cycling community. This Radio Milwaukee article provides some detail. Bike! Bingo was originally started by Ian Klepetar, founder of Bicycle Benefits, an organization that aims to get more people out biking and increase related benefits. I helped to coordinate Madison’s version with Zac Barnes from Wisconsin Bike Fed, a small group of Badger Volunteers from UW-Madison’s Morgridge Center for Public Service, and a handful of other helpful locals. We’re really excited about the event and hope to be able offer future editions of Bike! Bingo with community support. Enjoy your ride!

Partner Businesses on the Bingo card:

4 star video, Ace Lakeside, Alchemy Cafe, Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Anaala Salon, Bloom Bakeshop, Boulders Climbing Gym, Brasserie V, Community Pharmacy, EVP coffee, Isthmus, Mother Fools, Regent Market Coop, Servv, Short Stack Eatery, UW bookstore, Wine and Hop shop, Old Sugar Distillery, Wisconsin’s Water Library, Union Hair Parlor, Fair Trade Coffee House, Ian’s Pizza, Sardine, Higher Fire Clay Studio, Wingra Boats, Colectivo, Great Harvest Bread Co., Mimosa Books & Gifts, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Next Door Brewing Co., UW-Madison’s Morgridge Center and more!


Film Review | The Normal Heart starring Mark Ruffalo & Matt Bomer

dvd cover the normal heart

Produced by HBO, The Normal Heart has a lot in common with the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club. These films deal with the emergence and rapid increase of AIDS cases in the United States. The Normal Heart is an adaptation of a play by Larry Kramer that debuted in 1985. It places emphasis on both the gay men’s struggle happening in New York City and the personal life and relationship of an activist and New York Times reporter. The film starts out with Ned (Ruffalo) visiting his gay friends and the group learning about a new type of gay cancer (AIDS). They form a committee, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, with the intent to spread awareness, raise money and support those affected by the disease. Being the 1980’s, the men must tread a fine line with what is and is not socially acceptable and handle conflicts with those close to them.

The film does an excellent job showing how difficult things could have been at the time for gay men. The relationship between Ned and his lover (Bomer) is touching and tragic. The acting is well done and the film flows well. It may make you cry, but check it out from a library near you.

Manhattan Schools Pilot New Visual Thinking Strategies Curriculum

The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art is an important part of Kansas State University and impacts the community by helping “individuals think anew about personal experiences, sense of place, and the world of knowledge.” As part of their mission to use art as a teaching tool, Kathrine Schlageck, the Beach’s Senior Educator, has undergone training and commenced conducting Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) curriculum sessions in Manhattan Public Schools. As an Education Department volunteer, I accompanied her as an observer this week for the first 5th grade session at Bluemont Elementary School.
Curandera (Mexican Healer) painting by Carmen Lomas GarzaThis painting, Curandera (Mexican Healer), by Carmen Lomas Garza was the first image that the students were asked to discuss. Their conversation revolved around what they thought was going on in the image as a result of their visual observations – with the best part being that there were no wrong answers. I was amazed at how anxious almost all of the students were to share their thoughts with their class members. Some students took longer to form their thoughts about the images than others, but almost everyone was involved in the discussion at some point. Ideas about what was happening in the pieces varied widely and students backed up the assertions using visual clues in the artwork. I was interested in the diverse cultural interpretations that surfaced and how students collaborated to take their peers’ ideas further. Schlageck did an excellent job of fostering the conversation by moderating and echoing the students’ points without correcting or judging.

VTS logo

The program is being assessed and after the pilot sessions are completed, the district will use the data to make a decision about signing up for VTS. Pre and post session tests will be used to gauge the program’s outcome along with teachers’ observational notes. VTS has seen success in communities in California, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington, among others. For more information grab the December 11th copy of the Manhattan Mercury for their cover story entitled “Program teaches students to draw conclusions, back them up“. Learn more about Visual Thinking Strategies from the VTS website. For additional ways to participate in happenings with the Beach Museum, check their Participate webpage.

Science Café | “The Science of Beer Making” with Jeff Gill

Tallgrass growlerLast night I was fortunate enough to attend a rather packed Science Café presentation at the Aggieville Radina’s Coffeehouse and Roastery on “The Science of Beer Making”. Presenter Jeff Gill is a K-State alum and the founder of Manhattan’s own Tallgrass Brewing Company. As he explained the science behind brewing and the steps involved in creating a top-notch craft beer, samples of Ethos IPA and a yet un-canned coffee stout were passed around the room while questions and answers flowed freely. The audience included students, professors and community members who all seemed to enjoy the talk. Science topics included saccharification and fermentation, information about hops, talk of yeast strains and mutations, and of course product testing. Handouts included additional information for participants to take home – one in particular a color wheel detailing flavors and possible causes. Additional events are being held at Tallgrass Brewing later this week. Tallgrass currently distributes to 13 states from North Dakota to Mississippi and their Buffalo Sweat Oatmeal Cream Stout was listed in The 11 Best Beers of the Midwest by Men’s Health Magazine.

manhattan science cafe logoScience Café was started in an effort to provide accessible and engaging conversation on a range of science topics and is sponsored by Kansas Citizens for Science and Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Society. Next semester’s presentations will begin with the topic of Influenza and additional upcoming talks will be listed on their webpage. For additional information see Science Cafe’s National Webpage and the page for the Kansas State Chapter of Sigma Xi.

Corning-Painted Post third graders visit Rakow Library

CPP group working on puzzle

CPP group working on puzzle

In addition to providing traditional library services, the Rakow Library understands the importance of inviting the local community into its home. Each spring or fall, third grade classes from the Corning-Painted Post school district visit the Museum. During the Library visit, librarians teach students why the Rakow Library is special, what types of materials it has, and what services it offers. In addition, librarians and docents work together to conduct two unique learning activities.

Children gaze in awe at a leather-bound 15th century manuscript that survived the 1972 flood. When we bring the oversized tome down to eye-level, their faces light up and a chorus of “wow” is generally audible.

De situ orbis (manuscsript)

De situ orbis

Two favorite activities are the glass matching game and completing the large 1882 Corning map puzzle. Using a word bank, students identify glass objects that used to be common, but today are a bit tricky. They are quick to identify the glass shoes, necktie and pen, but stumble most with small antique hair gel jars shaped like bears. Librarians explain that before hair gel became what it is today, people used to slick their hair back with bear grease. This draws comments of “ew” and “gross,” and then it’s time to move on to the map puzzle!

We use the Corning map to show what methods of transportation were available in 1882 and how they influenced the development of Corning as a glass production hub. Focusing on the railroads and Chemung River, we talk about shipping and the importance of being able to bring in raw materials and send out finished glass goods. Working in groups, children assemble the approximately three foot wide map puzzle. Upon completion, if there’s time remaining, students figure out where the Museum would be located.

1882 Corning map

1882 Corning map

Approximately 275 third graders will visit the Library this November and December, including the groups who visited us this past spring in March and April. Each librarian and docent pair covers the same material in a slightly different way. Working with the visiting school groups is an exciting part of our day that we really look forward to. This program has happened each fall and spring for the past five years, and we anticipate continuing the tradition. If you are interested in bringing a school or other group to the Rakow Library, request a program online or e-mail us for more information.

The Rakow Research Library is open from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday
Telephone: 607.438.5300 | Email (general inquiries):

National Groundwater Awareness Week

The Center for Watershed Science and Education has written four news releases in cooperation with the Wisconsin Water Resources Institute (WRI) for National Groundwater Awareness Week. The Center is part of the University of Wisconsin – Extension Cooperative Extension Service and housed in the College of Natural Resources (CNR) at UW-Stevens Point. Specifically, the Central Wisconsin Groundwater Center works with citizens and local governments throughout Wisconsin, particularly those in the central part of the state. Their website host a variety of resources that provide helpful information about groundwater issues.

This year National Groundwater Awareness week is taking place March 6th through March 12th. Raising awareness of groundwater, water beneath the earth’s surface, is important because it is essential to the health and well being of humanity and the environment. In Wisconsin, groundwater provides drinking water for 70% of Wisconsin residents and 95% of communities. It also benefits lakes, streams and wetlands and helps sustain the many creatures who live there. Read the four news releases for further information.

1. Conserving Wisconsin’s Buried Treasure
2. Dispelling Groundwater Myths
3. Properly Filling and Sealing Unused Wells
4. Spring is a Good Time to Test Well Water